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Posts tagged “Fantasy

NaNoWriMo 2019 Starts Today!

Oh dear, that arrived rather suddenly, didn’t it? NaNoWriMo is here once again, which means that this year, it’s my turn to give it a go. I mentioned a while back that when NaNoWriMo came around, the articles will mostly be pre-written, so I do apologise if you see lots of pre-written content for a while… But hey, I thought I’d at least give you an idea about what my story’s about and of course, you’ll get an update in December when my story is complete and ready to be edited!

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UK Geek Events Spreadsheet

I’ve been trying to think of a way to get our UK Geek Events page to be, you know, better. It was fine for a little while, but constantly updating it has become tedious and if I’m being honest, clunky. So I got thinking about how to make this better, how we can do something as a community and how we can catalogue all of the great events that take place across the UK. I figured we might as well turn it into a Google Spreadsheet, as at least everyone will get access to the data this way.

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Gloomhaven on PC

You may remember I chatted about this one, and about a year or two before that it was all over the board game social groups. In short it’s a leviathan board game in a box the size of a couple of breeze blocks, it has a foot firmly in the RPG camp in the same way that Diablo and Grim Dawn are RPGs, all the stabbing, easy on the character moments, incidental decision making with pretty direct fallout, but damn it does the hacking and slashing well.

Characters are diverse in appearance and collection of powers building to tactical combinations with the rest of your party, clever but frustrating action economy, and so many possibilities, status conditions, and moving parts that the whole thing is far easier to manage with an app or three on the side. And actually with that electronic assistance Gloomhaven becomes an incredibly fun game, without it you’ve really got to enjoy your bookkeeping.

Borne on its popularity, Gloomhaven now has a video game version, all of the heroes fully animated, the modular board pieces turned into deep, rich scenery, and all of the numbers handled for you from behind the proverbial curtain.

Almost.

The video game version is still in early access stages so that players can help test the hell out of the many features to make sure that every character is ready and waiting to go. Currently the only playable characters are the Brute, Scoundrel, Spellweaver, and Cragheart, and after a recent update, the Tinkerer, which means that of course, my character has to wait until last. It’s almost like the Mindthief’s deck is filled with complex strategies, different mechanics, and like huge swarms of rats are hard to animate! Vermlings will not be sidelined!! Although apparently he gets released some time before the end of the year.

The board game has a mass of other characters who are unlocked over time, and given the pace of updates we might not be waiting all that long for the full release as it’s the characters and their management who are the most intricate part of the game. If their actions can be managed properly then so can all of the creature actions.

Oh, and on the subject of the creatures, the creatures in Gloomhaven always looked pretty in the artwork, but seeing them brought to life is something truly incredible. Demons, elemental undead take on a far more haunting aspect when they float and shamble their way towards you to kill you. “Elite” creatures also take on a better visual aspect, rather than being the same cardstock token inserted into a different colour stand, cultists change robes, bandits gain subtle armour decorations, and while the differences are not dramatic, they do add a little depth to the design that sets it apart from the tabletop version.

The gameplay is practically identical, you have your deck of cards, each of which with two options, in combat you choose two cards per turn, and you execute the top of one card and the bottom of the other, typically the top half will be more offensive, the bottom will be more tactical. For a turn based strategy you can easily take your time mulling over your options, and because you can play alone you’re not rushing to ensure you’re not holding everyone else up. When using those abilities, there is always the extra step of “confirming” your moves, which can be skipped by double-clicking, and there’s also a lot of confirming the end of turn, confirming how you take damage, and while it’s all necessary, it does jar the flow of the gameplay a little. Better I think to have played the board game to appreciate the reason for each feature, or maybe in-game tutorials will help advise new players after the proper release.

Early reports are naturally mixed because this game is early access, but fixes have been swift, broadly successful, and expected features are being released at a respectable pace. Whether you decide to jump on in the early days or wait for the full title, I think it’s safe to say that this will be a worthwhile investment for fans of the original board game. Whether or not it will translate to a broader audience… I’m going to suspend judgement for now.


Disenchantment Season 2

Matt Groening’s foray into fantasy dropped its second season this week.

Wow do I wish I had more to say. Usually when I review something I’ll be watching it again on the other screen while I write, but Lego Batman’s on Netflix now, so is the Between Two Ferns movie and those are two things I would rather watch! It’s nothing against Disenchantment… no, wait, it is, it’s definitely something against Disenchantment because so help me I do not recall anything that happened in the series that I watched three days ago!

Continuing the storyline that began in the first season and wrapping up the cliffhanger we left in in which Princess Tiabeanie “Bean” leaves Dreamland with her evil mother, oblivious to the fact that said mother is evil. Elfo the elf is dead, Luci the demon is stuck in a bottle, and all the people of Dreamland have been turned to stone, leaving King Zog alone to go mad. All of the above is wrapped up within a couple of episodes, and we learn who the shadowy figures were, Bean’s aunt and uncle.

We now get new plot threads, an elf conspiracy that goes nowhere except now all the elves have moved into the kingdom despite the fact that the city is a terrible place for them, and there’s an ever growing mess with the mother’s side of the family. But… I mean we’re not here for the story, right, we’re here for the comedy? Not sure what happened to that either to be honest.

In season one, Bean was a troubled and rebellious teen, she seems like she’s lost a lot of her zest, becoming a wooden peg on which the plot hangs. Elfo’s incredibly upbeat attitude has been tempered by cynicism with an upbeat delivery, which suits his character progression but loses his naive obliviousness. And Luci, who had been the main source of cynical comedy suddenly takes a backseat. King Zog is beaten down and humbled and clashes less with Bean which was half of his schtick. The first season was rife with jokes that didn’t so much subvert fantasy expectations as shine a massive spotlight on them, mixed with some excellent wordplay, with comical situations and characters.

This time around the jokes are few and far between, and the watering down of the characters only makes the whole thing more bland, and that’s the worst of it, it’s just underwhelming. Secondary characters are thrust forward to negligible effect I felt like Disenchantment was building to something, and I feel like it burned through a lot of the interesting questions pretty easily and left us without much to drag us into season three, if such a thing is coming.

And the worst part is… if it does, I still think I’ll watch it. There’s a cliffhanger, a mystery or two, and a likeability to the cast of characters that makes viewing all too easy. This is passive viewing at its most passive, while the humour is weakened, fewer laugh out loud moments, but it remains watchable and vaguely entertaining, especially if you watch both seasons back to back because there are a handful of running jokes that are forgettable but still kind of humorous, and there’s enough interesting narrative to keep you just barely engaged while I do something else on the other screen… like complain about what I’m watching!

It all nets to somewhere around “watchable”, or perhaps “bearable” but given the legacy it’s come from that makes it something of a disappointment. From the creators of Futurama and the Simpsons comes “more of the same”. Enjoy it if that’s what you want in life.


Top 10 – Rocks and Stones

GeekOut Top 10s

Hey, it looks like we’re on a roll. Whilst you may be rocking away, things are going to get a little cold, a little stone cold! Ahh, I crack myself up, so whilst we boulder towards this week’s list, let’s get some ground rules out of the way with. This list must at least feature the rocks, stones, boulders or otherwise in a fashion that they stand out. That’s about it, so let’s get ready to rock and roll!


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Review – The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance

I think I watched the original Jim Henson production a couple of years ago, a double bill with Labyrinth which – to be entirely honest – I never remember watching as a child. But Dark Crystal, the original Dark Crystal, I most certainly saw many years before. One of my earliest experiences of pure fantasy, and it is pure fantasy, free of human protagonists, devoid of anything familiar upon which to hang a sense of reality, comprised only of the complex and wondrous puppetry with which the Henson name is synonymous.

It remains firmly in the cult classic category, a lesser known kids film that connects and resonates with adults who loved it then and revere it now, and – like many a resurrected passion project – the prequel series saw a lot of fans emerging from the woodwork to support it. (more…)


NaNoWriMo 2019

Every year, we like to mention NaNoWriMo. It’s an exciting month, where writers across the world take up the challenge. Can they get their novels written? Can they do it in just one month? That’s the challenge laid before all takers in November, where writers must write at least 50,000 words and submit their daily accomplishments to the NaNoWriMo website. Every year, I’ve been fortunate enough to watch people take part. From friends and acquaintances, to complete strangers across Twitter and Facebook. This year, I want to be one of the crazy people who completes their novel in November. Here’s a little bit of information in prepping for NaNoWriMo.

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Anime Review: Dr. STONE

A world in which civilisation needs to be restored? That sounds exhilarating! But what would it take to rebuild from nothing? Would it require genius? How about brawn? No, it’d require both. Fortunately, Senku and Taiju are a genius and braun team when they’re combined. As such, they take to the task to try and free people who have been encased in stone, but how successful will they be in their endeavours?

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Journey Quest Season 4 – Kickstarter

This is a campaign is trouble, so this is a short article to reach out to anyone who wants to hear it.

I’ve talked Journey Quest before, it’s a series set in a D&D world without going so thoroughly referential as Order of the Stick or Goblins, more that the internal logic of things like character roles and systems like magic and the relations between races, the nearness of the divine powers, and the presence of undead, orcs and ogres and that kind of ilk. (more…)


Fantasy Review – The Shadow of What Was Lost

Ever feel like no matter how hard you try, you just aren’t Gifted? Well, so did the protagonist Davian as he kept his true identity a closely guarded secret, only telling his best friends in his school for Gifted students. Unbeknownst to them, they are each going to go on a journey to discover the dangers, the politics and the intrigue around being either Gifted, a Shadow or an Augur. If you’re looking for an epic high fantasy tale to keep you highly invested, you really should check this one out. If that sounds like fun to you, then read on for today’s spoiler-free review:

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